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Flawless - A Masterpiece
on 15 October 2002
The Who were undoubtedly the greatest live rock band of all time, their live performance etched in the memories of all those fortunate enough to see them in their prime. This collection is a timely reminder, to those convinced that modern rock is brilliant, that modern rock has a long way to do before it returns to the classic days of the 60's and 70s. Tracks from every Who album are present here, as well as selected singles, and rarities (actually, most of these are available on the CD reissues of five or six years ago). The first two of the three CDs contains all the hits while the last appears to have videos or 'extra footage' of some of the bands big hits. The first CD is essentially flawless, containing all the singles up to 'Who's Next'. Songs like 'I Can't Explain', 'The Kids are Alright', 'Substitute' and of course 'My Generation' defined an era in the mid sixties. 'I Can See For Miles', often cited as Pete Townshend's favourite Who record, was the tour de force of the magnificent 'Who Sell Out'. 'Magic Bus', with its unusual rhythm, became a Who classic in performance. However, it was with 'Tommy' that the Who became an institution, led by the brilliant single 'Pinball Wizard'. I feel that more songs from Tommy should have been placed on the album, but I admit that it is difficult to pick out five or six from the album. The presence of only three songs from 'Who's Next', probably the Who's finest achievement, is also surprising, but you can't argue with 'Baba O Riley', 'Behind Blue Eyes' (amazingly omitted from The Best of The Who - 1996), and of course 'Won't Get Fooled Again', which ends CD1 on a suitably emphatic note. CD2 begins a little tamely, with some of the songs which formed part of the Lifehouse project. 'Pure and Easy', already available on the reissue of 'Who's Next' is the pick of these songs. Three songs from 'Quadrophenia' are also present: '5:15','The Real Me' and 'Love Reign O'er Me', all terrific songs. Unfortunately, 'Squeeze Box' is the only song present from 'The Who by Numbers'. I would have liked the presence of 'Dreaming from the Waist' or even 'They are all in Love' but I guess you can't have everything. Three songs from 'Who Are You', notably the title track, complete the Keith Moon era, and if the album stopped there, you couldn't complain. There are a few numbers from the final two albums including the excellent 'You Better You Bet', their last hit, and 'Athena'.
All in all, a superb compilation, with a few odd choices here and there, but an essential first album for anyone new to the magic of the Who. Long Live Rock!!!